Providing Better Results and Transparency to Clients
When it comes to pricing, firms are always looking for ways to maximize profitability as well as meet clients’ growing demands and expectations around providing alternative fee arrangements and managing outside counsel expenses.
“Clients are asking for more predictability and transparency,” explained Brent Bourque, Senior Director and Practice Group Leader for Operations and Finance at Intapp. “They’re asking for alternative fee arrangements, including fixed or capped fees.”
To enable more accurate pricing while also aligning to client budgets, firms need access to key information at the start of the matter lifecycle. AI-based technology and law firm client relationship management software can help firms collect and analyze information, including historical data, client guidelines, and pricing options — allowing lawyers to meet current client expectations, attract new business, and create a culture of transparency.
Gathering Historical Data
Lawyers are more likely to successfully price matters and build workable budgets when basing their estimates on past profitable matters. Unfortunately, as Intapp Product Manager Dan Pratt revealed, firms often struggle with this process.
“It’s difficult for firms to find reliable historical data to build their budgets and price new matters effectively,” Pratt said, explaining that many firms simply don’t have the proper tools, such AI-based pricing software, to collect this necessary data. Pratt and other pricing experts recommend that firms invest in integrated law firm practice management software. Storing historical data within an integrated platform allows lawyers to quickly and easily access pricing and budgeting information.
However, it’s not enough for firms to simply collect historical data. As Bourque warned, “Some historical data may be from, say, 3 years ago, which was a different market environment from today.” For this reason, firms should invest in AI-based technology that not only stores and tracks historical data but also analyzes it and provides key insights. This will allow firms to optimize their overall pricing strategies.
Addressing Client Guidelines
Clients are demanding more transparency from firms and want assurances that all of their expectations and guidelines will be met. Lawyers can help set their firms up for success by collecting crucial information at the start of a matter.
“It’s good to have the client’s outside counsel guidelines (OCGs) as early as possible so the firm knows what the client’s expectations are,” said Pratt. Addressing OCGs and billing expectations early on provides firms with a better idea of how the client wants to operate.
Additionally, at the start of an engagement, the firm should seek to understand the client’s business issue and desired results along the way. Sharon Scenna, Senior Solutions Management Director at Intapp, explained: “Once you’ve established the client’s definition of success, you can better determine how the matter will proceed and the estimated budget.”
By collecting guidelines and establishing client expectations earlier in the process, lawyers set up themselves up for success, not only for current matters but also for attracting potential clients. “Firms gain a competitive advantage if they can be early movers with this kind of data,” Bourque revealed. “You can take that information and proactively pursue clients with appropriate arrangements to win more business.”
Enhancing Results with OnePlace Operations & Finance
OnePlace Operations & Finance, a cloud-based, AI-enabled software suite, was designed to help lawyers and legal professionals gather and analyze the data they need to successfully move forward with client matters. The suite uses propriety AI-based technology to compare new opportunities to historical engagement data and allows firms to explore various fee structures, creative pricing strategies, and potential budget issues.
“With the OnePlace Operations & Finance matter database, firms can see the actuals as they come in, every day,” Pratt explained. “You can track budget-to-actuals effectively and set up alerts to keep you on track for staying within budget.”
Accessing data from OnePlace Operations & Finance is convenient for lawyers, as everything is stored in one connected system, which saves time and effort and helps them better understand the matters they’re working on.
“OnePlace Operations & Finance stores time and pricing data together, unlike siloed systems,” Bourque said. “With OnePlace Operations & Finance, you get a complete picture — and you can see everything immediately as it’s entered.”
Bourque also pointed out that the OnePlace Operations & Finance suite helps firms ensure that their lawyers adhere to their clients’ guidelines and expectations. “You can enforce clients’ increasingly complex OCGs with OnePlace Operations & Finance, and cross-reference terms to help you plan for a specific matter,” he said. By using this AI-powered approach, firms can easily save time, mitigate risk, and effectively deliver on their commitments.
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